Last month our topic of focus was gamification and gamified eLearning to help improve the learning experience. This month we return to focus on one of our most popular topics – “Microlearning.” In earlier blog posts, we have touched upon several aspects of microlearning ranging from why it works, where it may not be a good fit, how to tailor it as per the target audience, its role in course conversion, and much more. In this blog post, our key topic of discussion will be to cite microlearning examples for better understanding. We will also examine the few demerits or disadvantages of microlearning, barriers preventing the adoption of microlearning, the usage of microlearning videos to foster employee learning, and how microlearning delivers a better learning experience.
Table of Contents
What is Microlearning? – A Quick Recap
Any form of learning that is under 10 minutes in duration can typically be classified as microlearning. It could be a subject matter expert speaking on a topic, an animated video, or a learning activity that helps the learners acquire new information or refresh their existing knowledge on the topic. We had published a blog post titled How Long is Too Short? Determining the Ideal Duration for Bite-Sized Learning. The blog post sought to find an answer to the perfect duration for a microlearning module.. Though opinions in the L&D community differ in terms of fixing an exact estimate, most experts agree that 10 minutes and below would be the ideal length for a microlearning module. As a concept, microlearning is not something that is recent. The 19th-century German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus who popularized the concept of the “Forgetting Curve” is considered to be the pioneer whose work enabled the creation of microlearning.
What is Not Microlearning? Breaking Down Myths
- Splitting a larger learning module just by time without any proper structure or flow is not microlearning. It is a poor learning design. Microlearning is a strategic unit with a specific learning objective.
- Any random video or podcast does not qualify as microlearning. Like every type of learning resource, microlearning should also have a learning objective and an enabled learning outcome that the learner acquires on completing the microlearning resource.
- It is important to understand that microlearning is not a “fix-all solution”. Microlearning works in specific cases and for specific target audiences. What works for one group of learners need not necessarily work in the same way for another group of learners. Therefore, good microlearning is customized as per the requirements of the learners.
Barriers in Deploying Microlearning
It is surprising to note that still a lot of organizations are not investing in creating microlearning-based training for their employees and customers. Some of the key reasons for this are:
- Lack of awareness of the effectiveness of microlearning
- Fear that it would not be a worthy investment
- Poor experience with sub-standard microlearning produced by vendors
- Resistance to change among employees and key decision-makers in the organization
- Fear that the microlearning content will turn obsolete soon and not justify the investment
- Lack of a proper L&D team to lead the employee learning process.
Videos are one of the most effective forms of microlearning. You could have an animated product-explainer video that is sequenced in episodes with one episode or nugget of learning for each key product feature. Getting SMEs to speak on a topic and presenting it as a video or using an animated avatar to guide learners are some of the popular video-based microlearning solutions. This blog post on the Training & Development blog offers insights on the right size for eLearning videos.
Microlearning videos work better in terms of knowledge dissemination because by design, key information is packed into a small duration of time and presented in an audio-visual format. There is a reason why YouTube is considered to be the biggest knowledge resource on the Internet. Two generations of people now consider YouTube as their first source of information to understand how something works. Be it picking up the basics of a new language or the recipe of a dish, YouTube videos are there to guide us. Hence, it makes sense to invest in microlearning videos.
Watch this video to learn why microlearning or bite-sized learning matters.
Demerits or Disadvantages of Microlearning
Some of the key disadvantages of microlearning are:
- Not conducive to every subject or topic
- May not be suitable for all types of learners
- The design and format of the learning type is not suited for large or detailed topics
- Stitching together smaller microlearning units to form a longer course may not always work
- Similar to the logic of a short story being more complex to write than a novel; a microlearning program may be more demanding and challenging to conceive than a longer eLearning program
- Some learners may prefer a detailed course rather than a small microlearning unit.
Four Impactful Microlearning Examples
Over the years, many organizations have deployed microlearning in their training strategy. From converting ILT courses to self-paced microlearning-based programs or designing an entire training session with independent microlearning units, trainers have seized opportunities to leverage success with Microlearning. Given below are brief descriptions of some of these microlearning projects.
Sales Training and ILT Conversion
The client organization wanted to overhaul its existing instructor-led sales training curriculum into an eLearning program. Origin Learning was commissioned to explore the existing content, make suitable upgrades to convert the course material into a self-paced microlearning program. The solution was approved by the client and when it was deployed it boosted course completion rates by over 25%, a significant improvement when compared to the old ILT. See the pictures below to get an idea of how the transformed course looked:
Internal English Language Training Program
Microlearning can be deployed very well for language training. Apps like DuoLingo help you learn new languages with great ease. A series of microlearning lessons was deployed to train young college recruits in improving their English language skills using the Origin Fractal LXP mobile app. Learners were given a refresher course in English. The content covered areas like U.S. vs U.K. English, sentence structure, usage of apostrophe, adjective clauses, etc. Learners would receive email alerts in conjunction with the launch of new lessons. The experiment was a great success. Here are some screenshots from the program.
Using Microlearning Solutions to Deliver Sales Training
Cloud computing and software virtualization are two of the fastest-growing segments in the IT industry. One such organization deployed microlearning solutions that restructured a longer sales training program into smaller microlearning units. This was done with careful planning and adequate revisions to make the learning process seamless. On deployment, the program was appreciated by the employees and the organization reported a significant increase in course completion and a boost in employee productivity too. Here is a screenshot from one of the microlearning sales training programs.
Using Microlearning Solutions to Deliver Product Training
Cloud computing has grown significantly in the last five years. In fact, it will not be a far stretch to say that companies working on SaaS-based products owe a lot to the big growth in cloud computing. There is a huge demand for trained cloud computing professionals. A leading American IT service management company that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms wanted to create an online training certification program. They turned to Microlearning solutions that offered interested learners an innovative and engaging way to get certified by the company. Please see a couple of screenshots from the microlearning program to learn how it was designed.
The pandemic has forced organizations to adopt a hybrid or completely remote-working model that offers employees greater flexibility to work. At the same time, there is also an added burden of ensuring that employee learning is not hampered. Keeping this in mind, organizations need to invest in microlearning to help employees learn at their convenience. Microlearning is popular among organizations because it is convenient, less expensive, a vast majority of learners like it, and is easier to update and deploy.
Where feasible, opting for small learning nuggets makes sense both on a monetary scale and for the ease of deploying them on a learning app. If one does not want to invest in a dedicated LXP or LMS, one could even offer microlearning videos hosted on the employee portal/intranet.
Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about creating and deploying microlearning training solutions for your organization.